While a missed period seems to be one of the most classic early pregnancy symptoms, there are actually a ton of other signs that a positive pregnancy test may be in your future. We asked our readers what some of their signs and symptoms of early pregnancy were, and some of the answers may surprise you. Check out these 23 early signs and symptoms of pregnancy to see if any of them sound familiar.
Early Pregnancy Symptoms Checklist
1. Skipped Period
You’ve seen it in the movies. You’ve read it in books. It happened to your mom, your sister, and your best friend. Her period was several days late, and that’s when she knew something was up. A week after her missed period, she took a test and her suspicions were confirmed – she was pregnant. A missed period is definitely a pretty good sign that you may be pregnant, but if you have irregular cycles, this sign may be easy to miss.
2. Cramping and Implantation Bleeding
About 25% of women have experienced light bleeding 6-12 days after conception. As the egg implants into a woman’s uterine lining, it can cause irritation and bleeding. As well, increased blood flow to the uterus during early pregnancy can cause cramping, similar to period cramping.
3. Sore Boobs Or Nipples
Sore boobs and/or nipples are one of the most common symptoms of early pregnancy. You might start feeling these changes in your breasts any time from 1-2 weeks after conception.
These sensations might go away after a week or so, or they might last until the baby arrives. You can thank the amped up production of estrogen and progesterone for this. Increased blood flow is also making your boobs grow larger.
4. Food/Smell Aversions or Heightened Sense of Smell
If the smell of raw meat or your co-worker’s perfume is sending you running for the hills, you’re not alone.
A lot of folks have also mentioned that the sudden retching at the smell and taste of coffee was one of the first things to set off their pregnancy radar.
There’s a theory that the aversion to coffee (and other potentially harmful foods, such as raw meat) is the body’s way of protecting the fetus from substances that may affect its development. The production of pregnancy hormones (specifically estrogen in this case), are the culprits for this early pregnancy symptom.
Unless you’ve been sucking on an old penny, you may be experiencing a pregnancy symptom called dysgeusia. The hormone estrogen helps to control and moderate your sense of taste.
When pregnancy causes estrogen to surge, things start to get a little wonky in the taste department. It’s also been suggested that prenatal vitamins may play a role in bringing on that weird, metallic taste.
6. Nausea and Vomiting
Nausea and vomiting (also lovingly but totally inaccurately referred to as morning sickness) often go hand-in-hand with a heightened sense of smell brought on by pregnancy hormones.
As anyone who has experienced it will tell you, morning sickness can strike during any time of the day or night. For many, this symptom subsides by the second trimester, but some sad souls are stuck with it for the majority of their pregnancies.
Severe nausea and vomiting that just won’t bugger off is known as hyperemesis gravidarum. At its worst, it can cause dehydration, vitamin and mineral deficits and weight loss.
Related: When Does Morning Sickness Start (and End)? and 15 Natural Morning Sickness Remedies for the First Trimester and Beyond
Are you suddenly ravenously hungry and no amount of pickle and ketchup covered mac and cheese will do the trick?
Pregnancy hormones cause an increase in metabolism that allows your body to use up caloric energy more efficiently. This doesn’t actually mean you require a ton more calories, even though it may be hard not to consume them.
As your pregnancy continues, your growing baby will need more nourishment, which will likely impact your appetite as well. “Pass the potatoes.” We have an interesting post called Pregnancy Weight Gain Guidelines: Where Did They Come From, Anyway?
If you’re suddenly in the mood for something you’ve never enjoyed before, you’re not alone.
There isn’t really a definitive reason for pregnancy cravings, but like everything else, it’s probably related to your changing hormones. Certain foods may just bring comfort to you as you experience changes to your body, or the hard work your body is doing to produce more blood may be making you hungry.
For my first pregnancy, I couldn’t get enough of salty stuff (chips, fries, etc.) and with my second, it was sour (lemonade, sour patch kids, kimchi, etc.)
To help your baby get the nutrients it needs to grow, your body amps up blood production. In addition, your blood sugar and blood pressure decrease during pregnancy thanks to your soaring estrogen and progesterone levels.
All of these changes in your body are effing exhausting, so if you’re lucky and can catch a few z’s during the day, find a safe place to do it (aka not while driving home from work), and get snoozin.
On the flip side of pregnancy fatigue is insomnia related to pregnancy. As a direct side effect of daytime napping thanks to the high levels of progesterone that make them sleepy, many pregnant women have a hard time falling asleep at night.
Even without daytime naps, those hormonal shifts can make it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep. Add in that never ending urge to pee, and a good night’s sleep can become pretty hard to come by. 44% of women have reported experiencing insomnia during the first trimester of pregnancy, although it was more common in women who had sleep difficulties prior to becoming pregnant.
11. Intense Dreams
Many women have mentioned that pregnancy brought on dreams that were more vivid or intense than they had before. Surges in pregnancy hormones are, once again, probably the culprit here. As well, those extra hours of sleep thanks to pregnancy fatigue create more opportunities to churn out dreams of all sorts.
Finally, remembering dreams is related to recency. Since pregnant mamas are waking more throughout the night (to pee, in response to a baby’s movement, to change positions and everything in between), they are more likely to remember more of their dreams than they would be had they had a solid night’s sleep.
12. Night Sweats Or Feeling Hot
The part of the brain that’s in charge of regulating heat is at the mercy of ever-changing pregnancy hormones.
Rapid changes in estrogen as well as increased blood flow can cause an increase in body temperature, which your body might take as a cue to sweat so hard you could lube up a slip ‘n slide. Increased progesterone levels raise your basal body temperature, and the increase in your metabolic rate can also cause you to feel warmer.
If you take this as your cue to lounge in an ice cold kiddie pool no matter what time of year you’re pregnant, no one’s gonna judge.
The combination of headaches and pregnancy fatigue may have your head throbbing. Talk to your doctor about safe ways to combat pregnancy headaches if drinking extra water and getting more rest aren’t doing the trick.
Note: If you have a strong headache that’s not relieved by Tylenol and LOTS of water (3-4 large glasses of water, all at once) give your doc a call. It could just be a headache, or it could be the beginning of Preeclampsia which is no picnic.
Take a second to check out: 12 Dangerous Pregnancy Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore and Scary Shit Series – Preeclampsia so you know what to keep an eye on.
14. Lots of Peeing
In pregnancy, the peeing just never stops. The hCG hormone, produced by the cells in the placenta, nurtures and feeds the embryo attached to your uterine lining. It’s also the hormone that will give you a positive result on a pregnancy test, and, apparently, make you pee all day and night.
As your baby grows, it’ll start pressing on your bladder, also giving you the urge to pee a hundred times a day. Enjoy!
An increase in progesterone causes the smooth muscles of your intestinal wall and stomach to relax. This slows down digestion, and increases blood volume, and can lead to constipation.
Once an egg implants into the uterine wall, hCG production begins. Your progesterone levels rise, which allows your uterine lining to grow. While this is obviously necessary and beneficial for the healthy development of your baby, it can also create some problems for you in the bathroom department.
For example, if you don’t drink enough fluid to compensate for the increased blood volume in your pregnant body, you’ll be dehydrated. If you become dehydrated, constipation will likely follow. Although you may be tempted to cut back on the fluids since you’re already peeing every 10 minutes, don’t. Unless you want to be constipated, in which case, party on.
We’ve got a post – Constipation During Pregnancy – that will give you more details.
16. Blue Toilet Seats
Yep, you read that right. Some magical ladies develop the ability to turn their toilet seats blue when they become pregnant. Nobody really knows why, but it actually has more to do with their pregnancy hormones than the dye in their new maternity jeans. The elevated levels of estrogen and progesterone may change the pH of a pregnant woman’s skin, which then interacts with the ionized silver antimicrobial coating of their toilet seats, turning them a lovely shade of Smurf.
17. Changes in Skin
Hey, pregnancy hormones, while you’re busy doing all your work inside our bodies, why not bless us with a little acne as well?
An increase in androgens can cause your skin glands to grow and produce more oily and waxy sebum. While some people might refer to this as a pregnancy glow, others might just get to revisit the breakouts from their teenage years they thought they’d left behind.
I’ve got a fun post called, WTF is Pregnancy Doing to my Skin?
Have you found yourself huffing and puffing during physical activity that never seemed to bother you before?
60-70% of pregnant women have reported experiencing shortness of breath during pregnancy. Bet you can’t guess who’s the culprit here! Just kidding, of course you can. Pregnancy hormones!
Progesterone is a respiratory stimulant that makes you breathe faster. As your body produces more of this hormone, you’ll probably find yourself taking more breaths than usual. Don’t forget, you’re now sharing your oxygen supply with your growing babe, meaning there’s less oxygen to go around, and this may take some getting used to. In addition, as your baby grows larger, your diaphragm may rise up to 4 centimetres, making it hard to take deep, full breaths.
Take your time, take a breath, and if you’re concerned about pregnancy breathlessness, who ya gonna call? Your doctor!
19. Mood Swings
Some Pregnant Chicken readers said that their partners had to take cover during some pretty intense periods of frustration and annoyance thanks to pregnancy mood swings. Others reported bursting into tears during TV commercials or after seeing a particularly cute puppy walk by.
Whatever the reaction and whatever the trigger, pregnancy mood swings are no joke and can come on hard and fast due to a few different factors.
First of all, changes in estrogen and progesterone levels impact neurotransmitters, which are brain chemicals in charge of regulating mood.
Fatigue and the physical stress of growing a human can also take a toll on a pregnant person’s mood. (Go figure.)
Finally, there are some very real worries that come along with the prospect of parenthood, like what kind of parent you’ll be, what birth will be like, how you’re going to afford a baby, and what changes for your life are in store.
While pregnancy mood swings are totally normal, particularly between weeks 6-10 and in the third trimester, keep an eye out for symptoms of depression and anxiety during pregnancy (such as crying spells, inability to sleep, loss of interest in life, withdrawal, feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness or panic attacks). If you can’t shake some of these symptoms, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor to seek help.
Here are three really helpful posts about prenatal depression, signs of postpartum anxiety and a fun one on the reasons pregnant women cry.
20. Baby Brain
Lost your keys again? Just can’t remember the name of that pregnancy vitamin you were supposed to take? Put your purse in the refrigerator?
Baby brain/pregnancy fog/forgetfulness/whatever you want to call it is a pretty normal symptom of pregnancy. Your body’s increased production of progesterone, a calming hormone, can have the side effect of making you a little more forgetful or foggy than you were pre-pregnancy.
Plus, oh I don’t know, you might be a little distracted by building a person from scratch and the risks and responsibilities that go with it. Hard to say.
Either way, cut yourself a break and feel free to ‘forget’ to go to your cousin’s spoken word poetry reading.
21. Changes to Your Immune System
Contrary to popular belief, getting sick more than usual isn’t due to a weakened immune system during pregnancy. Your immune system actually goes through a rollercoaster of changes for 9 months to allow for the healthy growth of a baby.
For the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, the immune system is heightened. Immune cells flood the lining of the uterus, causing inflammation, which actually helps the embryo to implant.
For the next 15 weeks, the immune system is repressed. This allows the cells of the fetus to grow and develop.
After this period, the immune system ramps up again to help aid in the labor response.
As your immune system is going through all of these ups and downs, you’re more likely to get sick. Who needs an amusement park, anyway?
22. Sore or Swollen Gums
Hormone changes can bring on a lot of pregnancy surprises you’d never expect. For some of you, pregnancy gingivitis will be one.
In addition to increased gum sensitivity, the changes in your hormones can impact your body’s response to bacteria, increasing your chance of getting infections in your gums.
Don’t skip out on the dentist just because you’re pregnant – try to schedule at least one visit for a checkup to ensure that your teeth and gums stay healthy (plus, scheduling a dental appointment with a newborn is no easy feat!) Be sure to tell your dentist that you’re pregnant as well.
Also check out: Five People Who Should Know You’re Pregnant
Prepare to feel the burn in pregnancy. The heartburn, that is.
The hormone that helps to expand your uterus (our friend progesterone) also relaxes the valve between your esophagus and stomach, resulting in heartburn.
Check out What Helps Pregnancy Heartburn? to get some relief.
Summary of Early Pregnancy Symptoms
There are tons of signs of symptoms of early pregnancy. Some lucky folks experience all of them, and some experience none and have no idea they are pregnant until they give birth in a line at the bank. The only surefire way to tell if you’re pregnant is to take a pregnancy test, but many of these ailments give you a clue it might be time for a trip to the drugstore.
Did you experience any of these early pregnancy signs and symptoms? Are there others that we missed? Fill us in in the comments!
Our next reco: Pregnancy Calendar Week 1- 42